Now that the U.S-Mexico-Canada trade deal has been signed, Canada is moving on to new trade with China. Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay was to go to China for eight days. It appears that agriculture has a lot to gain from more business with China. More commodity sales abroad are good. But we can only open our doors so far. China is, after all, a police state and that is absolutely frightening when you consider what it means when Chinese companies operate here and when Canadian companies operate there.
Certainly, wide open trade and business with the Chinese Communist Party would be a profound disaster. It is, after all, the Communist Party you are dealing with when you trade with China. So, how far should a free country go? Not far, I fear.
In a nutshell, National Post columnist Terry Glavin recently called China “the largest and most sophisticated slave state in human history.” It is “a vicious, expansionist police state ruled by a violent, corrupt oligarchy that is quite explicit about its intent to overthrow the American–led world order that has guaranteed Canada’s peace and prosperity over the past 70 years.”
On this front, the new NAFTA offers good news. The so-called “China clause” or Article 32 in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement states that none of the three countries is allowed to enter a free trade agreement with a non-market economy (meaning China) without the blessing of the other two countries. Article 32 might just save us from ourselves.
On human rights violations alone, the Chinese Communist Party is among the worst. While saying it stopped using political prisoners in 2015 as a “living bank of organs” for on-demand transplants, there has been no decrease in waiting times in China for organ transplants, reports the New York based Epoch Times, started by Chinese ex-patriots. China routinely represses religion, speech and ethnic groups, the Epoch Times reports.
U.S. tariffs against China were not pulled from a hat. They are in retaliation for China’s many unending, unrepentant trade violations, including using unpaid slave labour.
A U.S. congressional committee last month asked the FBI to investigate Chinese intimidation of Chinese living in the United States and to include human rights in any trade negotiation with China. Said co-chair Chris Smith (R-New Jersey): “I’ve never seen a dictatorship like this one, that is so oppressive against its own people in modern times . . . China is on a race to the bottom with North Korea on human rights.”
Also last month, Australian ethics professor, Clive Hamilton, spoke to the MacDonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa about the alarming Chinese influence in Australia and argued the same influence is occurring in Canada. We’re just a few years behind.
There is widespread thinking that China is opening up to democracy and that private corporations in China operate as they do in North America. But both notions are completely false, said Hamilton, who recently wrote a book on the subject called Silent Invasion, a book that was rejected by three publishers because of Chinese influence, the Epoch Times reported.
China has actually dramatically shifted away from openness in the past three or four years, Hamilton told the small Ottawa crowd. “Every substantial private company in China must obey the Party if the Party gives it an instruction” even if the company is operating in Canada, Hamilton explained. The penalties for not doing so are enormous. Each company has a Communist Party cell and the chair of the cell is more powerful than the company CEO, he said.
The value of intellectual property stolen by China is estimated in hundreds of billions of dollars. Hamilton said that the United States considers the Chinese technology company, Huawei, a security threat because the communist party can use its technology for spying. Huawei has been blocked from operating in the United States.
Bloomberg News reported that Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfie told the World Economic Forum in 2015 that Huawei needed to improve its internal policing after the Chinese company had forgiven more than 4,000 workers, including senior executives, “for involvement in graft and fraudulent business activities.”
Hamilton argued that anyone doing business in China needs a Chinese majority owner who can then steal company secrets. He added that the Chinese Communist Party poured money into Australia, buying up news media and bribing politicians, in hopes of turning Australia into a country that complies with China’s wishes. Waking up to that danger, Australia this year passed anti-espionage laws that could send violators to prison for up to 15 years.
It is difficult not to conclude that the Chinese Communist Party is an intellectual property thief. Canada needs to carefully consider what access we give to a totalitarian regime and communist giant.
Patrick Meagher is editor of Farmers Forum and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org